Bill Gates has lined up more than a dozen of his fellow billionaires to go where many investors now fear to tread: cleaner energy technologies. Gates announced Sunday night that he's leading the Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, which plans to invest up to $1 billion in technology that could dramatically cut greenhouse-gas emissions, Fortune reports. "Our goal is to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable, and emissions-free energy to the world," Gates said. The fund, which has a 20-year life span, plans to invest in sectors including electricity generation, agriculture, and transportation. "Anything that leads to cheap, clean, reliable energy we're open-minded to," Gates said, per Quartz. He said investing in energy is tougher than investing in IT, but the potential rewards are "super, super big."
Gates has brought together investors worth $170 billion, including Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Alibaba chief Jack Ma, and natural gas trader Jack Arnold. ("The richest group of investors ever assembled?" asks Quartz.) Bloomberg notes that many venture capitalists backed clean energy several years ago, but investment dried up after the gambles failed to pay off. "The dearth of venture funding for clean energy technologies threatens to create a valley of death for the industry, with emerging ideas unable to find the necessary capital to reach commercialization," Arnold said in a statement. "As an investor-led effort, Breakthrough Energy Ventures is designed as a source of patient capital to spur innovation to meet the growing demand for low-cost, clean energy solutions." (Gates' recent dealings with chickens.)